A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

Thinking Creatively/Differently About Grant Agreements

Foundations use grant agreements to serve as a contract, typically to confirm details regarding the amount and period of the grant, its purpose, terms and conditions, and required reports and deadlines.

Unfortunately, in some cases, the grant agreement may be the last contact a funder has with a grantee until they receive a final report, if that, 12 months later. Don’t let this happen! The timing of a grant agreement presents a unique opportunity for funders to set the stage for an engaged and mutually beneficial relationship.

If you are a funder seeking to have a greater connection with your grantees or play a more strategic role in supporting their work, the content of your grant agreement may be the right place to spell this out.

Photos, blog posts, Twitter handles

At Crimsonbridge, we refer to grantees as “community partners” and want our role, as a community partner, to be active and have value. Therefore, after awarding a grant, we actively engage with partners through our #Community initiative and by sharing and promoting the work of our community partners throughout the grant period and beyond.

To do this effectively, we need a meaningful connection with and accurate content from our partners. We seized the grant agreement moment to explicitly address how we could best connect, maximize existing platforms (e.g., social media profiles, enews), and create an opportunity to share their story on our website. The result is a grant agreement that asks grantees for a basic final report as well as:

  • Images: 2 or more grantee photos including a logo image that the foundation can use
  • Profiles: Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and other available social media profiles
  • A story: A blog post, article, video, photo essay or other form of communications that shares the story of their grant related work at some point during the grant period

Grantees have responded with enthusiasm as it builds on and aligns with their efforts and puts us to work for them!

Supplying images and social media profiles is now second nature to nonprofit organizations, many of which are recognizing, faster than foundations, the power and versatility of having on online presence. We follow all our partners online and many actively connect with us on Twitter, voluntarily supply us with content, and are quick to retweet and like our posts that mention them and use their photos.

Instead of a lengthy final report we ask for a basic one and a piece of communications collateral—a blog post, photo essay, short video, or other shareable format—that tells the story of their work related to the grant and its impact. If a partner needs support in producing a piece, we provide it and serve as co-authors.

Changing the content of our grant agreement has made it a more dynamic and mutually beneficial tool and one that sets the stage for a robust relationship between true community partners. Interested in seeing examples of these stories? Visit the News section of our website at www.crimsonbridge.org.

Danielle Reyes is executive director of the Crimsonbridge Foundation. She has spent more than 20 years in the nonprofit sector and has an extensive background in organizational development, nonprofit capacity building, and developing social media, marketing, and communications strategies.

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